Armenia Azerbaijan Clash At OSCE Meeting Oskanian Stresses MKR Independence

"IN TODAY’S WORLD–THE UNIMAGINABLE HAS BECOME ACCEPTABLE–AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HAS BECOME UNDENIABLE. . . IN THIS NEW WORLD–A KARABAKH THAT DID NOT BELONG TO AZERBAIJAN IN THE NON-SOVIET YEARS AND THAT ISN’T CONTROLLED BY AZERBAIJAN TODAY–CAN NOT BE PART OF AZERBAIJAN TOMORROW."

YEREVAN (Yerkir-Noyan Tapan-RFE/RL)– Armenia and Azerbaijan were locked in yet another diplomatic battle over Nagorno-Karabakh at a high-level conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Saturday.

Armenian officials attending the OSCE Ministerial Council’s annual session in Portuguese city of Porto said the Azerbaijani side delayed the adoption of a concluding statement by demanding that it refer to the disputed region as being part of Azerbaijan. Discussions on the final text of the document were still going on late in the evening.

Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told RFE/RL from Porto that the Azerbaijani delegation was trying to include language upholding Baku’s sovereignty over Karabakh. He claimed that the Azerbaijani deman’s were not backed by most OSCE member states.

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian addressed the 10th Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–held in Porto–Portugal on Friday and Saturday–December 6 and 7. In his address–he spoke about the value of the OSCE’s double role in the Caucasus: as a mechanism to help in the resolution of conflicts to achieve peace–security and prosperity in the area–and to assist the process of reform and democratization in Armenia.

The Minister also welcomed the Charter on Combating Terrorism–which the Porto Meeting is set to adopt–as well as a comprehensive document on human trafficking.

Regarding the Nagorno Karabakh conflict resolution process–which the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and mediates–the Minister blamed Azerbaijan for scandalously and ungratefully denigrating any initiative or solution proposed by any international entity–that does not correspond to their maximalist rhetoric.

In the sidelines of the meeting–the Minister meet with the co-Chairmen of the Minsk Group–Steven Wagenseil–the acting director of ODIHR–and NATO Asst. Sec. Gen. Gunter Altenburg.

OSKANIAN’S ADDRESS

"Our unreserved appreciation for the work and dedication with which the Portuguese chairmanship has carried out its work and stayed the course–and to the Dutch for the work that awaits them in the coming year.

This Porto Ministerial of 2002 coincides with the 10th anniversary of Armenia’s membership as a participating state in the OSCE. For us–these 10 years of our history have been–in significant ways–intertwined with our relations with the OSCE. From the beginning–we have looked at the OSCE to play the double role for which it was designed: A mechanism to help in the resolution of conflicts to achieve peace–security and prosperity in our area–and to assist the process of reform and democratization within our country. And in this respect–we have not been disappointed.

We consider the OSCE the preeminent Euro-Atlantic institution. No other union–organization or association combines the OSCE’s unique characteristics of inclusiveness–its multi-dimensional range of concerns and its flexibility for cooperative action.

When the horrific events of September 11 shocked all of us to wake up to terrorism as a threat aimed at the security of one and all–the OSCE was able to respond and mobilize its resources. The Charter on Combating Terrorism we are to adopt here at Porto will join with the Bucharest Plan of Action for Combating Terrorism and the Bishkek Program of Action in expressing our collective commitment to confronting this danger. The ministerial decision to pursue a systematic examination of enduring and emergent threats in the new century is an urgent task. The reliability of such threat assessment and risk analysis will very much determine the quality and credibility of the strategy we will develop to counter those threats and to reduce those risks. We share therefore the proposal of those who think analytic capability is an ongoing competence in a fast moving environment. It is not a once-for-all exercise.

It is not enough–however–to add new obligations to our agendas if we do not take stock of our actions and implementations. We support therefore the decision to hold an annual Review Conference on Security. Such reviews and implementation meetings have demonstrated their value in other areas–particularly in the human dimension–and we think that they can also be helpful in the field of security. These meetings may provide a reality check to the strategy document which should set the parameters for our future direction.

No matter how critical the political-military components of our security agenda–the human dimension remains central. While their comparative importance and interdependence can be traced to the comprehensive framework of the Helsinki Final Act–today–nothing illustrates better this interdependence than the question of trafficking in persons. The ministerial decision about human trafficking is a comprehensive document–and we commend those who through diligence–dedication and determination have shepherded it through. For our part–we note the equilibrium it has tried to achieve but wish it had gone further in proposing concrete operational instrumen’s. Our delegation has advocated such an instrument: a thematic–non-place based task-force or mission that can pursue a problem wherever that problem is manifest or rampant. The trafficking in persons could have been a very appropriate issue where a task force specifically set up for this purpose would have assessed and addressed this transnational phenomenon.

Our Ministerial decision on tolerance is a brave and necessary attempt to operationalize our broad moral and human’stic commitment to the idea of tolerance. It is a hearts and minds issue not easily legislated or decreed. Sadly we have witnessed the inadequacy of simple exhortation. Nevertheless–we believe it still worthwhile to express our common convictions–our common world view and our common determination to fight those manifestations of discrimination and intolerance that are within a state’s capacity to fight.

Armenia–which has registered impressive economic growth and internal stability in the recent years is seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Not that the tunnel hasn’t been long and dark. It has indeed. And not simply because one world collapsed before another could be constructed. But also because in our neighborhood–Armenia’s commitment to peace and stability–to human rights and democratic values–has not always been shared. Armenia’s attempt to transcending the past together with our neighbors and to reach out for mutually beneficial regional cooperation has still not been reciprocated. As a result–Armenia’s own security and development have been threatened. Today–as our neighbor makes belligerent–war-mongering statemen’s–disavows laboriously negotiated understandings–and continues to implement economic blackmail against us for daring to defend the people of Nagorno Karabagh–Armenia continues to stand firm in defense of all the rights and values which are at the core of this organization’s existence.

These rights and values are not conditional or proprietary. They are common to all peoples – among them the people of Nagorno Karabagh. What the people of Nagorno Karabagh have sought peacefully–then fought to defend–and now are pursuing through a negotiated compromise–is the right to live freely–secure and unmolested–with dignity–on their own land. Azerbaijan rejected their peaceful–lawful appeals a dozen years ago–and continues to reject proposals for a peaceful–lawful resolution today. Yet their reasons for doing so have nothing to do with realities on the ground today–or with legal or historical facts. Rather–they continue to cling to yesterday’s map–arbitrarily drawn. And to an old world whose games and rules have changed.

In today’s world–the unimaginable has become acceptable–and the impossible has become undeniable. In today’s world–new countries are being formed in Asia–new borders are being drawn and re-drawn in Europe–and divided countries are becoming reunified in different form.

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